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Getting a Job With a Low GPA or Not Attending a Top School

Getting a job at a top-tier law firm with a low GPA or without attending one of the top law schools is possible despite employers putting a significant amount of emphasis on a high GPA and school attendance. If you are a recent graduate, your GPA could be the deciding factor between getting the job and being rejected.

Consider these methods when you are looking for a job in Big Law:

  • Start at smaller firms and work your way up. You will gain experience and build your resume.  Smaller firms have less competition, and have a more informal and relaxed atmosphere. You also get more hands on experiences in a spectrum of specializations and performing your skills. In addition, you get more visibility to prove your worth and gain recognition for your work.
  • Become business savvy.  Read journal articles and publications in the field, and study the firm’s business strategy. Assess your business strategy and think of ways to provide better services to your clients. You can also find apps for your phone, tablet or computer, like Dropbox or Fastcase, to make working easier.  Find ways to show the firm commitment to your work.
  • Specialize in a high-demand practice area or niche. If you can focus your work on a high demand area or niche, then big law firms may overlook grades and school, and focus on your expertise.  Specialization increases productivity by being able to provide needed skills without wasting time learning them. It can also provide job security since it is harder to replace someone with a set of special skills.

Having “low grades from a top-tier school may still hurt a lawyer, but not as much as low grades from a school far down on the law school rankings list would” (WiseGeek). Although there are many factors that influence the success of a practicing lawyer, GPA, class ranking, and school standing are important when determining if a recent graduate or associate will get the job. A combination of work experience, superior skills, career-building techniques, and time can help you get a great job at a big law firm.

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